Thursday, January 21, 2010

Much Ado About Little

The last time Massachusetts elected a Republican to the US Senate was in 1979, so of course the political talking heads are making a big deal about the reasoning and both sides are scrambling to affix blame or take credit.

Fox News's "Fair and Balanced" strategy today was to highlight President Obama as he attempted to rationalize this loss of what has been a position held by a Democrat since 1954 when John F Kennedy defeated Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. To be fair to Fox, President Obama seems to be doing all he can to reflect the elitism and arrogance of the Liberal Democratic leadership.

Fox News, et. al. (morning, afternoon, Beck, O'Reilly, etc) focused on pointing out President Obama attempts to blame this loss on citizen dissatisfaction over the Bush led administrations and consequently the voters are taking it out in this election. I can't figure the logic of that out, but it appears President Obama is going to ride the "blame the predecessor" horse for the foreseeable future. But that was not what caught my attention. It was a follow-on comment that really concerns me, and I believe reflects a fundamental belief for him.

His comment was along the lines of Over the past year I've been so busy solving the important (or immediate) problems that I've not done a good job communicating with the American people, telling them what their core beliefs should be. If he believes it is his, or the governments, job to establish a citizens core beliefs than he truly does think he knows better than each of us what we should believe. He would have government replace parents, and the church as institutions where our understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, and just and unjust are developed. I seem to recall a similar attempt to accomplish this in Germany in the 30's. I know Germany was Fascist, and it would probably be more correct to name any Communist state, but Fox seems to have monopolized that for their use.

From one of the vast centralist members of the population here is what I think are the top 5 reasons the Democrats lost what has for almost all my life been an easy win for them.

1. Arrogance -- The Democratic candidate thought the job was hers and she just had to wait through the formalities to be anointed. Even the citizens of Massachusetts have to get a little annoyed with that level of arrogance. The fact she made stupid statements and thought Kurt Shilling was a Yankee fan certainly didn't help, but today most candidates are little more that talking heads saying whatever their advisors suggest.

2. Charismatic and competent opponent -- The Republican candidate knew going in his chances were slim and he worked hard to talk, to listen and to connect with the average voter. In short he was able to the paint a picture for the voter that was almost in direct contrast with his opponent. This allowed him to control the tempo and the debate. The Democrat's were forced into a defensive campaign, attempting to limit damage. I suspect both candidates actually hold very similar views on most issues like health care, same sex marriage, pro-life (against), and foreign policy. Where Brown may differ is in a reluctance to impose government control of commerce.

3. The way Congress and the President have handled the Health Care debate and legislation. First let me say Massachusetts has a strong union base, and probably has good social and health care programs, especially when compared to places like the deep south. But when the President enters office promising an open government and the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate do everything they can to broker back room deals the average citizen recognizes the double standard being set. How many failed elections does it take to recognize that "do as I say, not as I do" doesn't work for politicians any better than parents.

4. Poor turn out of the far left student and central Boston minority voter base. The one really predictable thing about young voters is their short attention span and a rationalization they have better things to do than go stand in line to pull a lever. I suspect the same is true for the urban minorities. I know here in Fort Walton Beach the average voter turn out is predominately white, middle aged working class. Last year with President Obama on the ticket it was completely different. We had a hugh turn out of minority voters. There was no such compelling reason in this election, so I'm guessing they stayed home.

5. Finally, weak Democratic Party support. It was only in the last month that the national party really recognized this was going to be close. They probably suffer from the same arrogance as their candidate, but regardless of the cause, no one at the central party did very much to slow down Brown's efforts or bolster their own candidate. When they did make a half assed attempt and brought in the President he did absolutely nothing of substance to show how important it was for the party faithful to turn out and vote the party line.

With so much of the media attention on the Health Care Bill, and the Democrats posturing to blame the Republicans for all that is wrong with the world; this next year, and the Congressional Elections in the Fall will be a really interesting time. I know the conservative media are calling this a game changer election, but there is only so much hyperbole to throw around. I suspect this time next year Senator Scott Brown will be getting beat up by these same talking heads for not being the Conservative they think he should be and supporting the President on too many issues.

But then, I haven't been told what my Core Values should be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Winters Day

"All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray, I've been for a walk on a Winter's day. I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA" These words from the Mama's and Papa's song California Dreaming have always seemed to capture the feelings of Winter for me. I can picture the drab, lifeless sense of the season, Winter seems to bring out the darkness in people; unfortunate, because Winter is the season of renewal. It is the time when the earth turns into itself so in the spring renewal life will bloom. I think we can learn much from this cycle, if we don't turn into ourselves, to spend some time in reflection than we never grow.

I spent a few moments this weekend reading profiles of family on Facebook. One or two caught my attention and I would like to reflect on them for a moment. One of the magnificent things about our country is we each have a right to become whoever we want. So many go through their lives without understanding that. I say this because I want there to be no mistake that I am not condemning them, but because they've chosen to publish those choices they afford others a right to comment.

One of my extended family characterizes herself as a Liberal, and then goes on to state that religion breeds violence, self-rightousness, elitism, hatred and non-thinking behavior. Clearly her definition of Liberal seems to narrow the definition to only that as defined by the Democratic Party, or perhaps Nancy Pelosi. I believe a true liberal could be so much more. The Oxford dictionary defines liberal as "given freely, abundant, generous, not sparing, open-minded, not prejudiced, not strict or rigorous, for a general broadening of the mind, favoring individual liberty and political and social reform." When you define your view as liberal, you shouldn't get to contradict yourself with the close-minded, elitist, belief that ALL religion, and ALL religious beliefs are bad. Clearly your chosen path is self-limiting, as you will not consider the foundations for faith as they reflect on the pursuit of truth. Pity.

On consideration, I find a great many who have had profound impacts on our world, and who would by all definitions be considered Liberal, have not turned away from religion, but found ways to embrace the power of their faith. For example, "I am confident that God has made me the instrument of showing a better way" Mohandas K GANDI, or "It is not when I am going to meet him, but when I am turning away and leaving him alone, that I discover that God is." Henry David THOREAU. From my perspective, without faith, life will be a hopeless and bitter Winter without the hope of Spring.

For another in my extended family I offer this single thought. What is put on the world wide web, will reside somewhere for as long as mass storage exists, and probably well past your life time. I hope you can live with the canvas you are painting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


As the day grows dark, the chill of the day deepens. This is the season when irrationality seems to flourish, when purpose seems to schlep away without reason. I seem to be caught up in the foolishness surrounding me, and apparently am unable to influence.

Flight, escape, away
a distant dream imagine
is the grass greener?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

It is a beautiful, if somewhat chilly, Sunday morning and I am wondering what this next year will be like for us all. I am not one for making resolutions so I am not looking for great changes from the years past.

As I think back on the past year it has been a good one for us. We've been blessed with a stable income, sheltered from the economic woes so many have experienced. We had a wonderful vacation to Disney World, with the children and grandchildren. We welcomed Simon Robert into the family and watched as Hannah Rose grew into a bright, loud, two year old. Hopefully 2010 will bring the same joys.

We know that in June, Meagan and John will have their formal wedding, and I am looking forward to that with much anticipation. I was informed last night that Mary Lou is planning on spending March in Pennsylvania, baby sitting Hannah. That will leave me here to watch the cats. I will leave it at that...

We, Mary Lou and I, are getting used to our new computers, so far so good, although it takes some getting used to the Apple keyboard where delete = backspace.

Since our Christmas newsletter doesn't seem to have made it to the world I will go ahead and copy it here. Hope whoever reads this has a wonderful year.

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